Daria Burnasheva

This paper reflects on ways of understanding climate change from an Indigenous paradigm. Through the lens of Indigenous water concept (Griffith, 2018), it will look at the contemporary processes shaping the identity, spirituality and hydrosocial relations in Sakha (Yakutia). It will look at how these processes are influenced by climate change. Traditionally, the relations between societies and water in permafrost areas have been understood in strict economic terms as cost-ineffective and unprofitable. Previously, research has pointed out the “cost of the cold” (Hill & Gaddy, 2003). However, what was often omitted was the actual efficiency of cold and ice. In fact, Indigenous communities in Sakha (Yakutia) have succeeded in building a partnership with the ice and learned to benefit from it in conditions of scarce economic resources and lack of infrastructure. However, climate change and rapid transformations of the permafrost environment are not only causing additional costs but also cultural loss. Focused on this connection, this paper reflects on the following questions: how has the ice shaped the identity, spirituality and traditional hydrosocial relations of Indigenous communities in Sakha (Yakutia)? How do their identity and spirituality change under climate change and current transformations in the cryosphere? And finally, how is climate change transforming the traditional hydrosocial relations in the Arctic?

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